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How Racially Segregated is Denver Compared to Other Major U.S. Cities?

America is a nation built by immigrants, and its cities are supposed to be melting pots where people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and races interact and learn from one another.

The reality, however, is that cities are oftentimes divided by race and ethnicity. And when it comes to racial segregation, Denver is no exception. 

This becomes strikingly apparent when using an online mapping tool devised by researchers at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. By employing code developed by a former staff member there, Dustin Cable, researchers were able to overlay 2010 U.S. Census data onto a map of the United States.

The result looks like Google Maps, only covered with 308,745,538 individual dots – one for each person living in the U.S and color-coded by the person's race and ethnicity as reported on the Census. (More info on the methodology can be found here).


Here's a look at a map of Denver neighborhoods (click on the upper-right corner to expand). The color-codes for various races are as follows: light blue for White, light green for Black, red for Asian, yellow for Hispanic and brown for other races, Native Americans or those who are multi-ethnic.



While the data on these maps is six years old, the images still provide a visceral sense of racial segregation in the city of Denver, and other cities around the nation.


In the case of Denver, clear dividing lines can be seen between adjacent neighborhoods like Park Hill (mostly White) and North Park Hill (mostly Black and Hispanic).

Compared to other cities, though, Denver doesn't seem to be any more segregated; in some other cities, the divisions are actually more marked than what we see in Denver. For instance, the dividing line of 8 Mile Road in Detroit:

Below we've posted other examples of cities so you can compare them to Denver. You can also access the full interactive map, which includes zoom capability, here.

New York:

Los Angeles:

Chicago:

Baltimore:

Atlanta:

Houston:

Dallas:

Orlando:

Phoenix:

Seattle:

San Francisco:


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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker